Portable NAS Storage System with USB Drives

ArOZ Online >> A portable cloud storage and multimedia streaming station using Raspberry Pi zero w

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ArOZ Online is a project running in many of my Raspberry Pis and I am still working on it to add more functions like video editing on Raspberry Pi Clusters and FFmpeg integration (and AI for backstage management of course :) ). If you want me to tag this project, I would choose #WebOS #Decentralized #Web-Desktop-in-Raspberry-Pi #The-cake-is-a-lie

And yes, this run on Raspberry Pi Zero W as well as other Debian based OS.


Hi! Welcome onboard. ArOZ Online System is a project that I have been working on since 2016.
This is a system run on top of Rasbian (Image of the Raspberry Pi) that provide the "full power" of this little computer to users through the web interface. However, in order to make it portable, I have to custom design a PCB that mount to the bottom of the Pi zero w and this is where the development of the BETA version started: A main board for ArOZ Online Systems.

Why System"s"?

ArOZ Online actually support a wide range of devices as host from Raspberry Pi zero (which I mostly work on) to Pi 3B+ and even thin clients. So this system needs A LOT OF HARDWARE compatibility over different low power systems. The main board of the system currently support "Pi zero w", "Pi zero" and 'Banana M2 zero" (which has the same form factor with the pi zero family). But after I have made the board working with the god damn FE1.1S (yes, this is what border me most), I will expand the support to other SBCs. Maybe other "fruit branded" SBCs like the orange pi and banana pi?

Download the System

You can get a copy of the system over here:

  • 1 × Raspberry Pi Zero W You can also use Banana Pi M2 Zero or the original Pi zero if you have plenty of USB WiFi dongle laying around.
  • 1 × RT3070 USB WiFi Adapter Or another supported WiFi Dongle will do. However, AOB is tested with RT3070 and it is proved to work best out of the box except the power draw problem
  • 1 × IP5306 Semiconductors and Integrated Circuits / Misc. Semiconductors and Integrated Circuits
  • 1 × FE1.1S USB2.0 Hub controller (Planning to find an alternative to this, still working on it)
  • 2 × Lithium Polymer Battery 3.7V 1200mAh x2 (total output 2.1Amps, each with protection circuit)

View all 6 components

  • Finally, Disk manager is working!

    tobychui09/19/2019 at 10:05 0 comments

    For many of the cheap NAS / Hard disk to Network disk adapter out there, they only provide functions for uploading, downloading and stream of the files in the disk. That makes me wonder, is it really so freaking difficult to create a cloud disk manager that will make remote disk formatting possible?  Well at least in my understanding, Synology DSM got this function built in but many other brand doesn't. That means this function is difficult to implement is it?

    And the answer is

    NOPE (And it only take me 2 weeks)

    Yes my friend, the diskmg is here to the rescue.

    This sub-system provide functions like format, mounting / un-mounting USB drives or external hard disk and also visualize all disk partition in an easy to read format. (And you can also remove your disk "safely" through the context menu)

    And the system will warn you if you want to actually format your drive.

    You might be wondering, if this system is going to support Windows and Linux as its host, what would it looks like on Windows host? Well, it looks basically identical other than some extra fields in the table.

    That is it! Now ArOZ Online system support formatting your disk with its Web Desktop Interface. So, should I be supporting SMART disk check in the coming versions? :P

  • Cluster Processing Work in Progress

    tobychui06/09/2019 at 12:28 0 comments

    When mentioning about Raspberry Pis, you might think of those low processing power mini SBCs. But not with ArOZ Online with Raspberry Pis!

    We are working on the latest ArOZ Online System (or we sometime call "aCloud" as its name is a bit long) with Clustering functionality.

    In simple words, you can choose clusters by "names" to work on the same task together.

    So this is how it works. First of all, in your home networking, you got a router which act as an DHCP server. Each time a computer (Network interface connection initiated and request DHCP Discover to be precise), your router gives that devices a new IP address. Usually start with 192.168 follow by two more numbers and one dot. This is usually the nightmare of clustering as cluster require stationary end points for reaching other computers.

    In aCloud system, UUID is used to replace IP address and for each cluster tasks starts, it resolves the ip address in real time by local area network scanning.  So, you can choose which nodes to help process the current task with a simple selector like this one.

    We are still working on the communication pipelines between nodes but I am sure developers can use this with a bit of learning. Let me give an example for how this can speed things up.

    For example, you got a 3 minutes video that you want to convert from mp4 to mkv. What you usually do is that you will feed it into ffmpeg to do the conversion. Let say a Raspberry Pi can perform 1 minute of video conversion using 10 minutes in real time. Using clustering, developer can split the video into 3 parts, 1 minute each, feed them into 3 Raspberry Pi which is linked as cluster and the video will be split using 1 minute, converted using 10 minutes and join back with 1 extra minute. (So total 12 minutes. Much better than 30 minutes.)

    In case you are not interested in clustering, we also did some updates on Custom IME (Input Method Editor) . You can simplify call it with ao_module API wrapper and you can "take over" other module's keydown event and handle it on a separated window.  Fun huh?

  • File Browser inside a Web Browser

    tobychui02/22/2019 at 11:43 0 comments

    Maybe I have forgotten to mention.

    ArOZ Online System is a Web Desktop Environment. It means, what you got on a normal desktop environment, you got it in ArOZ Online System. So, please allow me to use one Project Log to introduce the ArOZ Online and you can have a general picture of it.

    To start with, this is my ArOZ Online Desktop. I use it everyday so it is a bit messy.

    When you open up the MyHost (Similar to My Computer but it is not your computer, it is your host), System Settings and List Menu (Give you a list of WebApp you can open), this is how it looks like.

    And yes, this is a Host using Windows Server and the drives are ACTUAL DRIVES in the server.

    If you wonder what will it looks like when you use Linux Host, here is it:

    Basically, the top two drives in green color are the one that you mostly use. The Base is your Desktop Directory and the Root is the ArOZ Online System Root. In Windows Users term, it is C:/users/yourname/Desktop and C:/

    And for those Folders on the Desktop, you can double click to open them just like what you usually do on a normal PC. For example, when I double click the "Meme" folder on my Desktop, I got this poped up

    And yes, you can use Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V and copy and paste files, move directories with Ctrl + X and Ctrl + V, delete files or folders with DELETE key etc.

    The modules on Desktop are clickable too, you can just double click them OR right click them for some hidden functions. (Double click the FFmpeg Factory, and Right Click on MyHost)

    And adding new files / folders, changing backgrounds or downloading files from url to server is as simple as right click and select what you want.

    Also, you can open anything from files to videos, musics and images as soon as the network protocol supports it (also your browser of course :) )

    Is this a good enough reason for you to build yourself a portable cloud system / NAS?

  • Something about Power Management in Ultra-thin device design

    tobychui02/10/2019 at 09:49 0 comments

    Due to the problem of thinning down the ArOZ Portable, a new LiPo charging and step up PCB is designed and put into the latest thin version of ArOZ Portable. That is a board that with a size only 35mm * 18mm. It uses IP5306 as its core (which is usually used in power bank circuit) and can deliver (and charge) up to 2Amps.

    (Sorry for the messy background)
    Now I am charging with single LiPo and due to the build in protection circuit, it can only charge at 1.55Amps.

    You might have notice that this is the circuit that I used in the latest ultra-thin version of ArOZ Portable and I decided to improve the design so I can use male header to adapt this board to my main board instead of soldering wires to the power circuit. And this is what I came up with :))

    For now, I am not sure if it works or not. I will release the Gerber file (and BOM list) after I have tested this. You know, I am a good person and I don't want to lit anyone's house on fire...

  • Thinner and Lighter Design (with one port)

    tobychui02/07/2019 at 14:40 0 comments


    I don't really prefer little to no IO. But due to high demand for "thinner devices" , "longer battery life" and "less bulky" from my beta test users, I decided to try and make a thinner, lighter version with less USB ports. And, here are the results!

    (Yes, the inductor is exposed out of the 3D printed case just to save an extra 2mm from the top case)

    This is the bottom view of the device with a label

    In case you wonder what is the drawing in the background, that is the ArOZ Online Cluster System that is planning to implement into this devices. More detail will be released soon.

    How can it be so thin? I leave out the FE1.1S USB Hub (and two USB port), glue the top and bottom case together (to save the space for screws) and removed one of the battery from the dual battery system. And the most important one should be the replacement of the LiPo charging and boost converter to a custom made board that is hand soldered. I will publish more information on the board as well after the stability test.

    So, how thin is it compare to the old versions?

    The latest version has a thickness of 1.2cm while the last generation has a thickness of 2.2cm, nearly half of the height has been stripped away. Length wise, it is also 1.4cm shorter than the previous version thanks to the removal of two IMPORTANT USB PORTS.

    To be honest, with a large enough Micro SD card, it is definitely enough for a buffering devices like this. But I still think having an extra USB port lying around isn't a bad things as the smartphone and laptop nowadays have no support over standard USB A ports just like the Macbook :((

  • Quite a lot of Software Updates

    tobychui01/26/2019 at 05:45 0 comments

    There are quite some updates for squeezing all the processing power from a pi zero w. Although I think these might be useful in the future, the co-developers of this project (software developer) just don't let me skip the idea of "allowing Youtube download and on site conversion" in ArOZ Online System.

    As a result, a new Youtube downloader is released under the latest ArOZ Online Beta (AOB)

    and onsite conversion with FFmpeg Factory (Basically a wrapper for FFmpeg under Linux / Windows Host environment)

    Another pending update will allow more float Windows on the same desktop interface. The previous version of AOB support a maximum number of 11 FloatWindows (fws). In the latest version, that number will be increased to 50. Good news for those who love to work on multiple windows :)

    One more notes here.
    I have moved this Project from "Hardware" to "Software" as in the current state, I will be working on Software a bit more compare to Hardware. I will switch the project type back to Hardware if the development phase changed.

  • Something screwed up in this version of PCB... again!

    tobychui01/21/2019 at 02:52 0 comments

    This is the 6th generation of the ArOZ Online Main board and something screwed up again. If you are curious which part of the PCB is screwed up, it is the power delivery of the 1st USB port and the FE1.1S ground pin.

    I have tracked down the issue to these parts.

    1. The power delivery trace to the 1st USB port is too thin. 5V power delivery to that port is not enough to drive the age old USB2.0 thumb drive (

    2. I forgot to draw the ground pin to the FE1.1S :((

    That is definitely my fault :((((((((((
    Anyway, in the new version, I give the USB Hub external pins for connecting it externally.
    I guess if I continues to screw up this mother board, this will cost me too much money to develop.
    I better ask someone (or buy someone's USB hub module) and solider it to the adapter board instead.

    If you wonder how the latest board looks like, this is it.

    Any help over the design of the USB Hub chips / PCB will be nice (And, I can offer you a free ArOZ Online board + Onboard Cloud OS if you can help with the design :)) )

View all 7 project logs

Enjoy this project?



kwapiszon wrote 01/26/2022 at 22:55 point

orange crab is possible put inside?

please add some switch key and meybe 5-8 normal keys buttons and 8 led diode for binary output

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Ace Isace wrote 02/22/2019 at 12:00 point

Thanks for sharing this awesome project :)

Having a Raspberry Pi powered NAS server that is slim, portable amd supports USB‘s is a very nice idea. I can‘t wait for more updates about the ArOZ Online project. 

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Mike Szczys wrote 01/18/2019 at 23:04 point

I've enjoyed reading about the #Nanohub - tiny USB 2.0 and 3.0 hubs! project and I think all the info you need to use the circuit in this project is available. Might be a good one to look into.

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tobychui wrote 01/21/2019 at 02:38 point

Hi Mike! Thanks for your comment. I did read that project (In fact, that is the reason why I notice this site). And I think that is too expensive to produce, specially USB2422 is kind of hard to get in Hong Kong as well. Do you have any recommendation on chip choice other than 2422 and FE1.1S?

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Mike Szczys wrote 01/21/2019 at 17:34 point

Well, here's a design that was entered in the Square Inch contest last fall. But I don't know where to source the FE1.1S chip at the center fo the design:

I also remember seeing this project from a few years back that uses consumer USB hubs. Might be worth consideration:

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